‘I do seek attention for my activism’
If there was ever a really strong swimmer against the tide, Tasnim Jara is one. By now, thanks to social media, this Bangladeshi doctor and her plain wedding sari have got more than 120,000 reactions and 30,000 shares. Tasnim wore it because a) she wanted to resist the stereotype of the dolled-up bride advertising her family’s status; and b) it was her late grandmother’s sari, and Tasnim wanted to keep her grandma very close to herself on this memorable day.
“When I decided to dress my way on my wedding, some of my relatives supported me, while others tried to doll me up,” she tells us. “The latter group… feared that people would think less of me and my family.” But Tasnim is no pushover. As the president of Aroggo, a health care start-up in Bangladesh, and a former president of a UN Youth Advisory panel, she’s capable of handling pressure. She asked her relatives, how did makeup, gold, or an expensive sari increase a bride’s or her family’s worth? “I was told, ‘Eguli korte hoy (This is what is done)’... None of them could give me a good enough reason why I really should, apart from giving in to social pressure.”
Some online reactions have called her an attention-seeker, and Tasnim agrees. “I’m a social activist and the whole point of my activism is seeking attention for an issue I care deeply about,” she says.
Tasnim urges people to add their voice to empowering messages. “I don’t want to be an advocate of how women should dress up for their wedding,” she says. “[But] if we see a girl being forced to do something against her will just because she was born a girl, please take the responsibility to protest against this.”
[My husband] told me, ‘I am very proud to see that you’re standing up for what you believe in. In case you need support, know that here’s a person who is willing to go miles’ TASNIM JARA, DOCTOR